IWWC denies Vessel permit

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Seven months after Vessel RE Holdings and Vessel Technologies, Inc. first appeared before the Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Commission seeking a permit for a septic system to serve a 42-unit apartment complex at 37 Hartford Avenue, the commission has announced its decision.

As the first order of business at its May 8 meeting, IWWC member Fred Jones read the commission’s decision to deny the permit and its rationale-based on four issues, that are partially quoted here:

• The commission found the application incomplete because it lacked approvals for the septic system by Farmington Valley Health and the Connecticut Department of Public Health, required for approval and assuring the accuracy of the plans and calculations for determining the amount of nitrogen and other discharges from the system.

• “The application anticipates discharges of nitrogen into the environment and eventually into the wetlands in excess of 7 mg/L … .” The commission’s expert testified that this eventually causes adverse changes to the wetland’s vegetative composition and species dominance, “constituting a reasonable probability of unreasonable pollution of the public trust in the air, water, and other natural resources of the State. Members found this to be both intentional and avoidable. The wetlands should not be used for purposefully removing nitrogen from the septic system discharge.

• Vessel has not “sufficiently evaluated the continuous seep of water from the hillside” at wetlands flag 7.

• Vessel has failed to pursue a “feasible and prudent alternative”—a connection to the public sewer system. It introduced questionable information about the distance between the site and the nearest sewer hub at Bank Street and possible installation of a sewer line in the state highway right of way.

James Sipperly, representing Vessel, extended apologies for Vice President Josh Levy’s absence, and left the meeting immediately after the commission voted unanimously to deny the application. Peter Voskowsky, abutting landowner and intervenor, and his attorney, George Schober, were also present and left after the decision was announced.

Vessel has 15 days to file an appeal through the courts, starting on the publication date of the decision. The town published the decision on May 14, giving Vessel until May 29 to file a suit asking the courts to overturn the IWWC decision. (No action had occurred by May 19.)

Vessel has used litigation in other Connecticut towns to override planning and zoning denials, including Simsbury, where court-facilitated negotiations resulted in Vessel prevailing after redesigning and shrinking the project footprint. Vessel currently has dozens of projects under construction or litigation across Connecticut and New Jersey.

With this decision, and without successful litigation by Vessel, the project cannot proceed to the planning and zoning commission for the permits required for construction. Visit granby-ct.gov for possible updates.